Microwave Journal

Satellite 2020 Bucked the Trend

March 17, 2020

Satellite 2020 was one of the trade shows that was able to go ahead even though the last day of the exhibition was cancelled. The timing was just right that it occurred right before the major shutdowns in the US went into place. The keynote Monday afternoon was a “fireside chat” with Elon Musk as he was asked about many of his space ventures and plans for the future. The video of the event is available here on YouTube.Here is a link to our Photo Gallery from the event.

Here are some of the RF/microwave highlights from the exhibition:

ArralisArralis announced the launch of their new Flat Panel (FP) technology aimed at satellite communication systems. The product is seen as a potential solution for high data rate communication, internet network, deep space exploration, aerospace research and CubeSat platforms as they become increasingly popular. The LE-KaFP30000 flat panel technology is a high-performance solution for modern communication systems. It can be used for satcom as well as 5G comms systems. Offering a small profile and flat geometry, this technology enables wide operational bandwidth, good polarization purity and a modularized design to meet customer requirements. It benefits from fusion bonding technology to provide maximum possible efficiency and minimal power wastage.  An 8x8 version was presented at the show operating in Ka-band with matching bandwidth of 27-30 GHz and 3-dB axial ratio bandwidth of 1.2 GHz. The Axial ratio bandwidth can be increased up the matching bandwidth subject to customer demands.

BridgeComm announced the next stage in its relationship with Boeing HorizonX. The two companies are collaboratively pioneering the development of applications of One-to-Many (OTM) technology, a breakthrough in OWC that provides bi-directional, ultra-high-speed mesh connectivity for terrestrial, OTM builds on the basic connectivity that traditional point-to-point optical terminals provide and enables a much broader set of telecommunication applications. This technology enables optical wireless communications systems to create bi-directional mesh connectivity similar to, and complementary with, radio frequency systems. OTM is capable of supporting terrestrial, airborne and space systems that require 10-100+ Gbps throughput, as well as the high reliability and redundancy inherent in mesh architecture. OTM maintains the inherent security features in OWC, while supporting the mesh architecture. OTM also provides a much-needed new option for high-speed connectivity in environments where RF spectrum is limited or congested.

Comtech Xicom introduced three new lines of SSPAs and BUCS:

  • Bobcat DC BUCs – Designed for compact terminals needing high power from very small packages. Bobcats enable users to shrink their footprint while speeding their link.  BUCs are available in X, Ku and Ka-band at powers up to 64 W
  • PUMA SSPAs/BUCs – Designed for fixed and transportable terminals, Pumas are flexible, high-performance AC-powered outdoor SSPAs.  Amplifiers and BUCs are available at X, Ku and Ka-band with power levels from 80 to 500 W supporting a wide range of power levels and redundancy options. 
  • Falcon Airborne SSPAs/BUCs - Designed for airborne satcom systems needing high power density with high efficiency, Falcons are high-performance, in-cabin and cabin-exterior SSPAs/BUCs designed for and certified to DO-160 and MIL-STD-810 requirements.  Amplifiers are available in Ku and Ka-band, including multi-band switchable BUCs built into the Ka-band units.

Cubic Telecom has partnered with Kymeta enable military, first responders and commercial customers across numerous land-based mobile verticals to operate with a vital ‘always-on’ communications connectivity solution, switching from satellite to cellular connectivity seamlessly. The technology collaboration brings secure, hyper-efficient, and highly optimized connectivity to industries such as the military, emergency response, transportation, recreational and overland adventure vehicles. This radical satellite-cellular hybrid package combines LTE and satellite connectivity using Kymeta’s flat panel electronically steered antenna technology. Buses, vehicle fleets, maritime vessels, ferries, trucks, and trains can leverage the optimal aspects of both satellite and cellular network technologies to provide highly reliable connections. The network connectivity occurs seamlessly to ensure that users remain connected anywhere in the world.

ETL Systems introduced its Hawk Matrix to the MENA and NAM regions at Satellite and CABSAT. The ultra-compact Hawk Matrix is suited for RF signal routing at Low Earth Orbit (LEO) gateways, as well as small High Throughput Satellite (HTS) ground stations and deployable VSAT terminals. The new dual 8 x 8 matrix is an addition to ETL’s growing range of 36 L-band Matrices. The design of the Hawk 1U matrix supports mission critical communication applications with plug and go technology from field replaceable matrix modules and hot-swap CPU and dual redundant power supply units. The new Hawk provides flexible routing solutions with configurable capacity and uplink or downlink matrix module options. It can be configured with either dual 8x8 matrix modules, or a single 16x8 or 8x16 matrix module. The 1U matrix can also be configured with two modules combining or distributing.

GoreGORE showcased a broad portfolio of GORE® Space Cables and Assemblies for traditional and NewSpace applications. GORE Space Cables that ensure non-stop power is distributed, and continuous high-speed data is transmitted in critical systems. These ESCC-qualified cables are available in small, lightweight, and flexible packages to save valuable weight for critical subsystems in low-earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary earth orbit (GEO) applications. Also displayed was ESA-qualified GORE® Spaceflight Microwave/RF Assemblies for high-power, high-frequency, high-flex, and high-density applications. With robust connector options, they ensure quality signals, low loss, excellent phase stability, and outstanding shielding effectiveness from DC to 40 GHz. Diameter sizes range from 1.2 mm (0.047 in) to 8.1 mm (0.320 in) to meet mass-driven or insertion loss application requirements. Gore also offers advanced solutions for thermal extremes, multipaction, low PIM (Passive Intermodulation), and radiation resistance.

Hughes showcased how consumers, businesses, governments and communities’ benefit from the connected experiences enabled by Hughes technologies and services. Hughes featured the latest technologies and solutions for GEO HTS and NGSO systems; Community Wi-Fi Hotspots and cellular backhaul; aero and maritime connectivity; military SATCOM; the latest in multi-transport terrestrial-satellite technologies, and more. Hughes, in partnership with Facebook Connectivity, announced it has implemented 1,000 Express Wi-Fi hotspots in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. Each Hughes Express Wi-Fi Hotspot is backhauled over satellite links, enabling merchants to offer affordable Internet access on a pay-per-use basis to about 500 people in their rural community where terrestrial service is too expensive or simply unavailable. They also announced it has been awarded a Data Link Modernization (DLM) contract by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) to provide new advanced satellite communications (SATCOM) systems for the U.S. Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Under the contract, Hughes will provide advanced, ruggedized HM400 modems that integrate with the DoD’s waveform technology to support the wide range of unique mission requirements of the U.S. Army – including operations in contested environments. Further information is available at www.hughes.com/sat20.

L3Harris Technologies introduced a new small satellite reflector antenna that will help decrease the size, weight and overall time to produce smallsats. Lighter and more compact than legacy designs, the new Smallsat Perimeter Truss leverages L3Harris’ advanced Perimeter Truss design, while optimizing its mass to make the unit lighter and smaller to package onto small satellites. Offered in diameters up to four meters, and specifically designed for use on smallsat platforms, the Ka-band SPT is one-third the size and 50% the weight of previous designs. When stowed, the reflector is about the size of a commercial office fire extinguisher.

Mission MicrowaveMission Microwave Technologies received initial orders for a major satellite ground terminal upgrade program for a US Government customer. Envistacom teamed with Mission Microwave to create an opportunity for their customer to replace legacy TWTA based BUCs with state-of-the-art Solid State BUCs based on GaN semiconductor technology. The initial upgrade platforms include 200 tactical terminals in support of the U.S. Army’s Project Manager Mission Network. Mission Microwave is providing Envistacom with 200 W Ku-Band and 50 W Ka-band BUCS to replace legacy TWTA based Up converters. If taken to completion, the upgrade program could result in orders of roughly $44 million for Mission Microwave.

Norsat International announced the launch of two new products in its 5G interference solution to further address issues of terrestrial interference within the C-Band spectrum. The latest 5G interference products include:

  • 3200-sBPF PLL LNB - Optimal for maritime terminal applications, this combines an LNB and a Band Pass Filter into a single compact form factor and can switch in and out the filtering between full and concatenated portion of the C-Band spectrum, allowing customers to use the full C-band when they are at sea and switch in the 5G filtering when they are close to shore.
  • eBPF-C 5G Band Pass Filter - A high-performance band pass filter with a narrow guard band that is easy to install, environmentally sealed, and moisture resistant. Delivers additional 5G rejection for the 3200-BPF series of LNB and C-Band Pass Filters.

These products are complementary additions to Norsat's C-Band 3200-BPF LNB and BPF-C Band Pass Filter series of 5G Interference solutions. In addition to its portfolio of products, Norsat offers consulting services for developing customized solutions to existing networks experiencing 5G interference. We recently did an eBook with them on 5 Ways to Address 5G Interference Issues if you have not read it.

Planar Monolithic Industries (PMI) was featuring PMI Model No. PRX-20-1G18G-850M-SFF which is a Channelized Receiver with an RF input of 1.0 to 18.0 GHz.  Twenty output channels allow simultaneous signals to be output for digitization.  An internal reference is included to lock the various LO's in order to down convert the signal into the necessary frequency bands.

SatixfySatixFy Space System announced a new modem chip to be used over LEO, MEO and GEO systems, with appropriate doppler and fade profile performance. The Sx3099 hosts 1 to 8 modems with aggregated throughput of 1 Gsymb/sec in both Tx and Rx directions. A single Sx3099 chip provides a single 1 Gsymb/sec carrier 2 X 500 Msymb/sec “make before break” handover in LEO aero connectivity, 8 X 125 Msymb/sec or any combination of channels aggregated to 1 Gsymb/sec. This is the first chip to fully support the entire DVB-S2X standard including all Beam Hopping modes as defined in the 2019 revision annex E. On top of previously defined formats, the chip includes all the new Super-frame format types 5, 6 and 7 (“point and shoot” Beam Hopping). Sx3099 includes native support for DVB-RCS2 400 MHz transmission as well as complete Software Defined Radio for any other waveform.

Spectra Group (US) showcased SlingShot, their tactical radio range extension system that US Army users report is the only communications system they have in Theater that works 100% of the time. Spectra’s SlingShot is used across the US Special Operations Force (SOF), providing tactical radio network range extension to well beyond line of sight, and on the move and seamlessly between Coalition partners. Providing interoperability between UHF and VHF radios, SlingShot enabled US Commanders C2 of multinational recce formations, giving the US Ground Force Commander the ability to maintain un-interrupted voice communications with handheld tactical radios over a 90+ mile range while travelling at speeds in excess of 70 mph. 

TeledyneTeledyne Paradise Datacom (TPD) announced AXIOM-X™, its new modem for point-to-point (P2P) and point-to-multipoint (P2MP) networks. AXIOM-X™ is a single-card solution that is compact and IP centric with low power consumption.  The small size AXIOM-X™ delivers powerful performance, supporting up to 575 Mbps of aggregate data and 160,000 IP packets per second. It also supports L2 bridging and L3 routing with full QoS and Traffic Shaping. They also announced the addition of a major new feature to its QMultiFlex-400™ Hub for point-to-multipoint (P2MP) satellite IP systems. Currently, operators desiring frequency re-use between outbound and inbound carriers must deploy a separate unit after the modem in a point-to-multipoint system. By utilizing the QMultiFlex-400 with its unique Embedded Hub Canceller, operators benefit from up to 50% bandwidth cost savings, smaller footprint - less required rack space, reduced power consumption, and simpler to deploy and operate.

Teledyne e2v HiRel announced a new addition to its RF product portfolio, a radiation tolerant, passive diode Double-Balanced Mixer for operation from 18-46 GHz. The new product, model TDMX011037, offers engineers in the space design community a mixer with very low conversion loss, high linearity, and a wide IF bandwidth MMIC for K- and Ka-band communication links. This kind of RF mixer is also ideally suited for use in designing an up- or down-conversion stage in signal chains for radar, satellite transponders, and related RF communications circuits deployed in electronic warfare applications.

Times Microwave Systems has developed the family of TCOM® cables to be the most versatile line of low loss coaxial cables on the market. They exhibit the qualities of the popular LMR®cable family - low loss, flexibility and ease of termination - and then take it up a couple of notches. The TCOM cables are extremely rugged, often making them the first choice for field applications in both military and commercial markets. TCOM is also a cable with low passive intermodulation (PIM), maintaining solid dynamic PIM performance of approximately –160 dBc (i.e., using two 20 W carriers) even after bending, coiling and continuous flexure.

ThinKom Solutions introduced a prototype low-cost, lightweight user terminal for the emerging multi-billion-dollar consumer and enterprise satellite communication markets. ThinKom’s new user terminal design is a compact, lightweight unit that offers the spectral efficiency, beam agility and switching speeds to work efficiently on satellites in low-Earth orbit (LEO), medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and highly elliptical orbit (HEO). The new user terminal is built on ThinKom’s patented CTS parallel plate flat-panel antenna technology, which has been field proven and deployed by government and commercial users across the globe. The full-duplex antenna terminals boast 60% lower profile and 75% lighter weight as compared to traditional parabolic dishes of comparable performance. ThinKom’s user terminals reduce both installation costs and maintenance costs.

TMYTMYTEK demonstrated their latest 5G products including: XRifle; Design you best deployment strategy by simulating EM waves with their patented technology to enhance the coverage with ideal costs; 5G BBox; an innovative beamforming development kit for all 5G antenna/baseband designers and 5G UD Box; an Up/Down Converter, 22-44 GHz, used to bridge the RF and IF domain. Lowering the frequency to IF domain also saves the cost of high frequency cables, connectors, and instruments. IF supports from 0.01 Hz to 14 GHz. They also demonstrated their phased array technologies, including RF design, material, heat management, calibration, and software. These tools enable engineers to build up beamforming system for small cells and satellite terminals. The size of scalable AiP ranges from 4x4 array up to 4K array. Customizing the AiP with specific array size, optimized for different frequency bands, or single or dual-polarization, are both available.

QuadSAT showed off its UAV Antenna Testing technology in the Startup Pavilion. QuadSAT’s debut at SATELLITE follows a successful year in which it signed a contract with ESA to develop its UAS testing solution to comply with industry-wide antenna performance protocol SOMAP, as well as having successfully demonstrated its technology to industry-leading satellite operators. QuadSAT’s system uses drone technology to test, calibrate and measure the performance of VSAT antennas. The system offers similar capabilities as a traditional antenna test range by generating and receiving test signals in a highly controlled and consistent manner. The result is a portable, cost-effective, and time-efficient method to verify antenna performance. 

Wireless Telecom Group was demonstrating sending data over a simulated satellite network utilizing products from Boonton, CommAgility, Holzworth, Microlab, and Noisecom. Facing issues such as advancing communication standards and an increased number of satellites sharing limited resources, products across all Wireless Telecom Group segments band together to enable and support real-life 4G/5G satellite communications. The demonstration provided solutions in signal generation, transport, impairment, monitoring, and measurement that address 4G/5G satellite network challenges, such as Doppler Shifts, multiple satellite system hops, signal jamming, carrier-to-noise impairments, satellite signal combining and distribution, and accurate RF power measurements and signal analysis. Here is a block diagram: